Do you feel hopeless, discouraged or powerless?
This past Sunday we looked at two people who seemed to be powerless and hopeless. But with one word their lives changed radically. What one word could make such a difference?
There is no one else like him. If that truth has become old hat for you, if you’ve heard it a million times since you were in Sunday School as a three year old, and the amazement of Jesus has become boring, please hear it again for the first time.
There is no one like him. He is unique and powerful. With Jesus the hopeless still have hope!
As you read the story, did you note the one word that is central for the two people who were healed by Jesus. Know what that one word is?
To the lady with bleeding, he said “Your faith has healed you.”
To Jairus whose daughter was dead, he said “Believe.”
It is the same word in the original language: faith.
There are two elements to faith, and this is why the NIV is correct to use both the word “faith” and “belief” when translating the word “faith”. The faith element relates to actions of trusting in and depending on God. The belief element relates to what we know in our minds to be true about God. Both of these elements are present in the biblical concept of faith. And both must be present in our faith in God. We believe and we trust, and we show that by the choices we make.
Like the lady who touched his robe, she believed Jesus could heal, and she showed faith by reaching out to touch him. Like Jairus, he believed Jesus could heal, so he sought out Jesus. Even after hearing that his daughter was dead, Jairus let Jesus guide the way to his house, into the room where the girl lay dead.
A full-fledged conception of faith starts with belief of heart and mind, but it does not stop there. It is not enough to say “I believe in Jesus”. Full-fledged faith does something about it!
Faith is belief that results in faithful action. Belief in the God of hope, leads to faithful action that shows we have hope.
But what about the many times when full-fledged faith doesn’t make everything better? Obviously Jesus didn’t heal every sick person or bring every dead person to life. The lady with the bleeding problem would have other ailments. Jairus’ 12-year old daughter, even if she grew up to have a long life, would one day die. The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was not so that he could become the star doctor of Capernaum General Hospital. Instead, his miracles were signposts pointing in the direction of the Kingdom of God. You see him calm a storm, you see him cast out demons, and you see him heal the sick and raise the dead. All are signposts saying “God’s Kingdom is here. There is hope in the world!”
But what is that hope? Is it a hope that those who have the right kind of faith will be blessed by God with perfect, easy, comfortable lives with no pain or misfortune? Not at all. The Lord never promised that. As the twelve disciples would find out in their own lives, and as many faithful Christians through the years have likewise found out, we are all prone to the many forms of brokenness in our world.
So what is the benefit of pursuing faithfulness as a disciple of Jesus? First, there is the hope of eternal life. The miracles of Jesus are signposts to another reality, the reality of his Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. By full-fledged faith in him, we can have hope that we are participants in his Kingdom, which includes life after death. We will be with him in heaven. Second, we can access what he called the abundant life. The abundant life points to the reality that we can be participants in his Kingdom now! It is his life flowing through and changing our lives so that we learn more and more to live now like he did.
A vital question, then, is what does it mean to live faithfully in God’s Kingdom now? Your situation might have similarities or many differences from the lady or from Jairus. But would you ask the question: “How do I show faith in Christ in the midst of my unique situation?” I would encourage you not to assume that you know how to answer that question. But instead ask that question to someone older and wiser, someone who shows faithfulness, who shows they know how to live in God’s Kingdom.